Former Komen VP’s New ‘Bona Fides’; Alzheimer’s Definition Changing?; Palin On Her Special Needs Child

Every week, Jessica Marcy searches for interesting in-depth reading.

The Daily Beast: How Karen Handel’s Komen Resignation Boosts Her Political Prospects
Even if you put politics and ideology completely aside, Karen Handel had to resign from Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It’s hard to think of the last time an employee did so much damage to such a respected brand in so little time. … But while Komen will sustain long-term damage, Handel probably will be just fine. Yes, she’s lost her position as Komen’s vice president for public policy. But Handel has long had political aspirations, and she’s now a right-wing cause célèbre. When she ran for the Georgia Republican gubernatorial nomination two years ago, she was attacked for being insufficiently anti-abortion. That’s unlikely to happen again. “It’s kind of hard to criticize her now,” Joel McElhannon, a Georgia-based GOP strategist, told the Associated Press (Michelle Goldberg, 2/8).

TIME: New Criteria May Change Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
Recently revised guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease would reclassify nearly all patients who are currently diagnosed with mild or very mild Alzheimer’s as having mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a new study finds. The change may be confusing for doctors and misleading for patients and their families, says Dr. John Morris, a neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis. Reporting in the journal Archives of Neurology, Morris finds that 99.8 percent of patients now diagnosed with very mild Alzheimer’s dementia would actually be considered to have MCI, according to the latest guidelines. Among patients with mild Alzheimer’s, 92.7 percent would be reclassified as having MCI (Alice Park, 2/8).

KHN summarized other news coverage on Alzheimer’s this week: Obama Administration Pledges $156 Million For Alzheimer’s Research And Care (2/8).

American Medical News: The Limits Of Treating Loved Ones
It was a busy day for the cardiologist. Between juggling patients, he received a phone call from his mother. She said she had heartburn and complained that none of the usual over-the-counter medications had helped. So the cardiologist quickly called in a prescription for her for an acid blocker and went back to seeing patients. Later that afternoon, his mother called again — this time from an emergency department. The doctors there said she had a heart attack. … Professional ethics policies have long warned about the perils of physicians treating themselves or family members. … Yet medical board officials say such rules are commonly violated by well-meaning physicians, either knowingly or unknowingly (Carolyne Krupa, 2/6).

Scientific American Mind: Thinking About Mortality Changes How We Act
The thought of shuffling off our mortal coil can make all of us a little squeamish. But avoiding the idea of death entirely means ignoring the role it can play in determining our actions. Consider the following scenario: … It’s the middle of the night when you are suddenly awakened from a deep sleep by the sound of screams and the choking smell of smoke. … [S]ome thoughts of death shore up our beliefs, and other types of reflection make us reexamine them. Which kind leads to a better life? For their experiment, Blackie and Cozzolino recruited volunteers aged 17 to 76 and primed them in different ways (Wray Herbert, 2/6).

The New Yorker: Out The Window
Today is January, midmonth, midday, and mid-New Hampshire, and the writer sits in his blue armchair looking out the window. He is eighty-three. He teeters when he walks, he no longer drives, he looks out the window and watches birds come to his feeder. … The cow barn forty yards away was built in 1865, and he gazes at it every day of the year. His mother turned ninety in the Connecticut house where she had lived for almost sixty years, and she spent her last decade looking out the window. She died in a nursing home one month short of ninety-one. A year later, Jane, the writer’s wife, at forty-seven, was dying of leukemia (Donald Hall, 1/23).

Newsweek/Chicago Tribune: Life With Trig: Raising A Special-Needs Child
Families of children with special needs are bonded by a shared experience of the joys, challenges, fears, and blessings of raising these beautiful children whom we see as perfect in this imperfect world. … When I discovered early in my pregnancy that my baby would be born with an extra chromosome, the diagnosis of Down syndrome frightened me so much that I dared not discuss my pregnancy for many months. All I could seem to muster was a calling out to God to prepare my heart for what was ahead. My prayers were answered beyond my shallow understanding of what true joy could be (Sarah Palin, 2/9).